New Jersey crossed the 1 million COVID-19 vaccinations threshold Monday, eight weeks after the state launched its coronavirus immunization program at University Hospital in Newark. Announcing the “significant milestone,” Gov. Phil Murphy said this includes more than 813,000 first doses and 224,000-plus second doses.
Murphy said that while the program began slowly, with a limited supply of the vaccine, it has since expanded and picked up speed. Millions of New Jerseyans now qualify for immunization (including health care workers, first responders, long-term care residents, people over age 65 and those with certain pre-existing conditions) and there are some 250 sites established to administer shots, when vaccines are available.
Demand for the vaccine still outpaces supply considerably and the state’s registration and scheduling system have struggled to support the public pleas for assistance. The state has set a goal of immunizing 70% of the eligible adults — or 4.7 million people — to create a safe level of community protection, something Murphy wants completed by the end of June.
“We are definitely on our way, but we need much greater supply to get the vaccination infrastructure we purpose-built from the ground up working to its full potential,” Murphy said. “This is a great barrier we have crossed but we are not resting on any laurels here. No one is getting any trophies or ribbons today.”
The state is using vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna — the two drugmakers with federal emergency authorization for their products — both of which require two doses, given three (Pfizer) to four (Moderna) weeks apart. A single-shot vaccine, by New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson, could be available in March.